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Help Your Child Develop Great Homework Habits

As students begin the second half of the school year, some may find themselves needing to raise lagging grades.

University of Georgia specialists say developing good homework habits can be the key to a child's success in school. And parents can play an important role.

Homework important to child's success

S. Omahen, UGA CAES
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HOMEWORK HELPS students learn more about what teachers present during the day. Helping your child learn to do homework well can also teach them life-long work habits.

"Homework is an extension of your child's school day and reinforces skills learned in the classroom," said Diane Bales, an extension human development specialist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

"If you want your child to be motivated to do homework," Bales said, "you as a parent have to show that you think education and homework are important."

Make homework time work

One way to show you value homework is to set aside a regular time each day for homework. And be consistent.

"Provide a quiet, well-lit place for him to study," Bales said. "Make sure your child has the right supplies on hand and is prepared to work on homework."

Organization is the key to getting homework done on time. Many children don't complete their homework on time because they don't remember what they need to do.

"Teach your child how to be prepared for homework," Bales said. "Encourage him to be responsible. If he has trouble keeping track of assignments, you can help by providing a calendar or assignment book for organizing daily assignments and remembering project due dates."

Many school systems are teaching children to use daily assignment books or agendas the school provides. These assignment books can help children learn to become better organized.

Kids need parents' help

". . .You as a parent have to show that you think education and homework are important." -- Diane Bales, a UGA human development specialist.

Once your child begins his homework assignments, be available to help. Younger children need more hands-on help from adults, while older children can take more responsibility for their homework.

Beginning in the fourth grade, encourage your child to work on the homework assignments alone before asking for help.

Help with memory work. "If your child has vocabulary words to study, drill or review with him by calling out the words or questions, or by listening to him recite the words," Bales said.

If your child has several homework assignments on a particular day, he may need a short break. "Just a few minutes away can often refresh a child's busy mind," Bales said.

Varying assignments can help prevent boredom and reduce frustration.

"If your child has reading assignments in both English and science and practice exercises in math, suggest that he do one reading assignment, then the math and then the other reading," Bales said.

S. Omahen, UGA CAES
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Once your child has completed his homework, sit down with him and check his work. Help your child identify and correct his mistakes. But don't dwell on incorrect answers.

Learning for life

On long-term projects, teach your child where to find information. "Teach him how to use books, newspapers and magazines as resource tools," Bales said. "A trip to the local library is also a must when guiding your child through a project."

When planning a school project, help your child come up with ideas. "But be careful not to take over the project," Bales said. "You may need to offer suggestions to get your child started. But always let the final decision be his."

Be an advocate for your child, too.

"If his homework load is overwhelming, talk to the teacher before your child becomes frustrated and loses interest in school work," Bales said. "Work with the teacher and your child to solve the problem. Regular communication with your child's teacher is essential."

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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